What are some of the a) liberating and b) limiting things about working as a creative person in advertising today?
a) The opportunity in advertising is that over the years, one gets to understand so many types of businesses across so many categories. We get to know how each product is made, distributed, purchased, etc. This means that each brand can have its own tone/mood/voice. It's liberating to be in a position to set something like that in motion. It's especially challenging when it's a new brand, waiting to explode. b) The only limiting thing I have encountered is the subjective nature of the business. Anyone can be a commentator with an opinion on how it should be done.
What advice would you like to leave with all the young aspiring creative folks out there?
I actually have a few...
a. Don't give up. I have faced many challenges thrown at me from clients. Every round of presentation threw some more challenges and they HAD to be solved. If you keep at it and take it as a challenge, the end result will surprise you. b. Collaborate. Remember that you are not the only person that can bring an idea alive. Our industry is such that you need to depend on other people - directors, music directors, producers, photographers, developers, etc. So while you may have had the break-through idea, collaborate and improve at every stage. c. Believe in yourself. A lot of times, when comments and feedback are thrown from all directions, one tends to get a bit pressured. But if you believe in something, fight for it till the end. There is a lot of satisfaction at the end of it, I can promise you that.
Who or what has been your greatest influence on your way of thinking and creative process?
I haven't really had role models in advertising as such. But a few people have made impressions that have really helped my attitude. At the beginning of my career, Sanjeev Thakkar and Omar Marks nurtured me and believed in me. Later, Kartik Iyer had a huge influence on how to cut through nonsense and focus on bigger things in conversations.
A piece of advice you wish someone had given you when you started your career.
I have been fortunate that I met some really awesome people who were involved in nurturing me. But I just wish someone told me to balance life a little better :). It's important to take breaks.
Do you see any changes in the makeup of who will be using the web in the future?
Most often we underestimate the potential of internet in rural India. They are at 15% of internet usage right now, if I am correct. It's going to explode. And brands will be running to produce content to indulge them.
We live in times wherein there has been a hybridization of both people and designations, as in one person plays more than one role in an organization. So where does creativity go from here-more multitasking teams or more specialized creatives?
This is a bit strange to me. Because I have always believed that a copywriter is not just that. It may be a core function, but a creative person needs to understand numbers, strategy, consumer speak/behaviour, and at some stage when that copywriter becomes a senior resource, s/he needs to have a POV on art too (and vice versa). Knowing multiple languages, functions, having an ear for music, being current and relevant (at least knowledge-wise) has been important forever.
It is predicted that there will be an even stronger shift toward Artificial Intelligence with the advanced management of Internet bots, in order to guide and assist the user on websites and apps. The AI will gradually learn all your habits and preferences to the extent that it is able to manage the daily routine for you. Does this thought scare you or excite you?
Scares the shit out of me! There's a reason FB shut down bots that started communicating with each were shut down. Will Smith was right in I, Robot.
What would be the next step for you? You know 5 to 10 yrs, what would you like to see yourself doing creatively?
A lot more than what I am doing today. Maybe direct a film, write a screenplay or a book, recording my first album...I have a list! Now let's see how many I get around to fulfilling.